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  Geographically large game-worlds  (Read 3405 times)
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Offline snak

Senior Newbie




Eu não falo o português


« Posted 2004-08-17 19:59:55 »

I'm working on an RPG that I'd like to be fairly realistic, and I'm a little worried about inducing travel boredom on the player.  By realistic, I mean the world will be large, and travel will generally be slow (i.e. foot or horse).  Travelling between points of interest would generally take about 5-15 minutes in real time.  

I want travel through the wilderness to be a bit of an adventure in itself.  I'd like setting out for a new location to require a little planning and a induce a little trepidation.  But I don't want the wilderness travel to feel stale or tedious.  The only solution I've come up with so far is to give the player a quick-travel option to places he's been before, with the possibility of random encounters interrupting the travel.  Travel to new locations would still require walking.  To keep with the theme of the game, the auto-travel would be presented as a time-compression kind of thing, no magic portals or teleportation.

Has anyone played a game that implemented travel in a large world really well?
Offline Mojomonkey

Senior Member




ooh ooh eee eeee


« Reply #1 - Posted 2004-08-17 20:35:40 »

There is an interesting article regarding Turbine and the development of D&D Online where they mention they thing overly large worlds are the number one problem with MMORPGs today. They mention something regarding a game world should be built like a skyscraper, not a strip mall. So, they are going the opposite direction, keeping things small and intimate.

What I find interesting about that is this is from the people who make Ascheron's Call, which had a huge spralling world that you had to run for days without seeing anyone. They had portals you could take to ease travel, but it still took forever and felt like work. There was nothing worse than running for 10 minutes and not seeing a single soul. Maybe they learned from that?

I'd guess that large worlds are a slippery slope, you want people to feel like they are part of something larger, but you don't want to force the drudgery of travel on them.

Don't send a man to do a monkey's work.
Offline blahblahblahh

JGO Coder


Medals: 1


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« Reply #2 - Posted 2004-08-17 20:56:29 »

Quote

What I find interesting about that is this is from the people who make Ascheron's Call, which had a huge spralling world that you had to run for days without seeing anyone. They had portals you could take to ease travel, but it still took forever and felt like work. There was nothing worse than running for 10 minutes and not seeing a single soul. Maybe they learned from that?


More likely (going on past experience of other groups) they are heading towards the typical knee-jerk reaction of a group of naive designers who moderately screwed up their first game and now are overly scared to repeat the same mistakes - i.e. their original mistakes weren't *that* bad but got them a disproportionate amount of bad press and they don't have the background / experience to be able to get the right perspective.

I'd like to credit them with more nous than that, and I'm sure most of the inexperienced staff have been replaced by now, but it IS hard to avoid when you get in that situation; it takes a lot of leadership to say "I know this was our number one complaint, but I really do think we can solve it without going too far in the opposite direction".

You have to bear in mind that Turbine grew very quickly mainly with completely inexperienced staff who hadn't had any time in the industry, and the rest hadn't had time to learn their craft, so much of the original game was guess work. Some people can learn a lot from doing just one game; most need to get 4 or 5 done before they really know what they're doing.

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Offline Mojomonkey

Senior Member




ooh ooh eee eeee


« Reply #3 - Posted 2004-08-17 21:43:39 »

Well, quite possibly. But there's also the flip side. They said themselves (which I should have mentioned in the previous post) that they really enjoy playing Betas where there is typically far fewer players and they are in a central location (whatever area being tested). And this tends to be a common feeling: "The beta was great before all these people showed up". So they are striving for fewer players per server and a smaller world. Whether that's them overreacting *shrug* I can't say, but I don't think so. Not to mention Turbine is large enough now that I'd venture a guess that they don't have to worry about inexperience. I'm sure they have been injected with a couple veterans by now.

Don't send a man to do a monkey's work.
Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #4 - Posted 2004-08-19 11:21:10 »

In answer to the original question: I think what you are suggesting sounds fine.

I played a lot of Daggerfall during my mispent youth and that did something very similar. It let you buy a horse, which made you a lot quicker but the real clincher was a "fast travel" option like the one you have described that let you travel rapidly to anywhere you knew the whereabouts of on the map. You could still walk directly from A to B if you were so inclined and you would probably find all manner of interesting stuff on the way there if you did travel direct, but the instant version saved a lot of time and effort. You could also choose to travel carefully ( which brought you to your destination with full health ) or quickly (which left you as you were but was a lot faster, I think it may have increased your chances of being attacked as well, but I haven't played it for years and I don't really remember ) which often had an outcome on time limited quests.

Your map showed all the towns and villages and any dungeons you had been given directions to as part of quests.

You could perhaps have something similar, or an ability to fast travel along roads? Maybe even something like the boat and silt-strider services you had in Morrowind- a pay for quick travel to the next town kind of option? There are lots of in-game justifications for that.
Offline monkeyget

Senior Newbie





« Reply #5 - Posted 2004-08-21 21:42:58 »

This link may be interesting for you http://www.dead-ends.net/mmogblog/index.php?p=18
Offline snak

Senior Newbie




Eu não falo o português


« Reply #6 - Posted 2004-09-30 15:21:09 »

Thanks for the good input.  I should have mentioned up front that I'm working on a single player RPG, but many of the concepts from the online games apply.  Here are the things I've picked up which I'll try to incorporate into my game....

- Travel should never feel like a chore.  The designer needs to ensure that travel is either skipped or made worthwhile
- The game should provide 'short cut' option to skip over routes the player traverses frequently (with a pretty low threshold on the definition of 'frequently')
- When you do force the player to take the scenic route, be sure to present the player with things to do (encounters more interesting than random wandering attack sparrows)
- Free instant travel will dilute the experience of a large game world.  Make the player pay for the service (doesn't need to be a high cost - just enough to make the player think before jumping through the teleporter)
- Instant travel options should make sense in the context of the game world.  Travel that is instantaneous for the player may take a fair amount of time in the game world.
- Make sure the player doesn't get lost.  The big problem isn't so much not knowing how to get where you want to go - the real problem is not understanding the significance of going north as opposed to south.  While this is more a consequence of open-ended game design than a big world, the two go hand in hand.  Give the player some way of really orienting themselves.

Thanks again for the input.  Here's one other link I found that is related to the OP...
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=261605

Offline JuddMan

Senior Member


Medals: 1


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« Reply #7 - Posted 2004-11-25 11:24:09 »

"Instant travel options should make sense in the context of the game world"

how about the Cannon Travel service in Secret of Mana?? that didnt make terribly much sense.

Giving the impression of a huge world doesnt always mean letting the player walk every square mile of it on foot. perhaps a huge forrest can be navigated in a few screens, along with some pretty tough enemies to fight... being hard, it'll take a while for the player to get through. but as the player levels up, the enemies will be much easier and quicker to kill on return trips so the travel time through that forest will be reduced.

one of my major peeves with a lot of RPG's is slow character movement. in games like secret of mana, you can walk through most scenes in any time between 10 seconds to 1 minute depending on how large it is. but if you decide to stop and fight the monsters it will usually take a lot longer.

basically my opinion is that always providing a quicker means for players in a hurry is a good idea.
Offline Virum

Junior Member




Like a leaf in an icy world, memories will fade


« Reply #8 - Posted 2004-12-09 05:35:38 »

I think World of Warcraft is a good example of a world that truly feels large, but isn't too tedious to navigate.  For long distances, you have flying creatures to take you from point A to point B which is very fast; a minute at the most.

For cross continent travel there was a boat that you got on and "sailed" on to get to the other continent.  After the first 10-20 seconds after push off, the game pulls an "Indiana Jones" and shows the map with dots showing where you are sailing.

I'd check the game out if you haven't yet.

It's time to prove to your friends that your worth a damn. Sometimes that means dying; sometimes that means killing a whole lotta people.

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Offline Breakfast

Senior Member




for great justice!


« Reply #9 - Posted 2004-12-14 11:55:53 »

In daggerfall they got around the cost by making rapid travel instantaneous for the player but taking an appropriate amount of in-game time. This meant you had to be quite careful with it if you were doing timed quests because you could spend so much time on the road that you couldn't complete the quest on time.
Games published by our own members! Check 'em out!
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Offline zingbat

Senior Member




Java games rock!


« Reply #10 - Posted 2004-12-14 18:13:16 »

Quote
I'm working on an RPG that I'd like to be fairly realistic, and I'm a little worried about inducing travel boredom on the player.  By realistic, I mean the world will be large, and travel will generally be slow (i.e. foot or horse).  Travelling between points of interest would generally take about 5-15 minutes in real time.  


Daggerfall Fast-travel mode was a great system. Teleportation in that game screwed things a bit i guess after a certain point of the game.

To travel from the north-west point of the map to the other extreme it was necessary several hours. Don't remenber how much, but a guy made an experience puting something on the forward key before going to bed and in the morning he still hasn't reached the other side.

Fast-travel works very well. It was suposed to be like Fallout from hints the fans got from the hacked Daggerfall files but it become something more simple. You bring the travel map wherever you are, chose a destination that is known to your char (either by obtaining maps or someone mentioning it in dialog) click on it and the number of "real" days it takes to travel there is dicounted. If you go by ship or horse or if you choose inns to rest or the wilderness. There was supposed to be a survival skill that would have some account on the travel time and random encounters.

Fallout was more like a Daggerfall sofistication but you didn't have Daggerfall option to start fasttravel anytime as long you were not under attack or you were not in a locked area.

kul_th_las
Guest
« Reply #11 - Posted 2005-01-12 13:38:11 »

Innovate, dammit!  Grin

Fast travel options are always a decent approach, however I offer yet another alternative.

Give the player something interesting to do during travel time. Think about any long road trip you've ever taken, and what you do to keep yourself occupied during the long monotonous hours. Consider something like allowing the player to hire a driver, so the player can play minigames (the game equivalent of a GameBoy) along the road.

Another option is if the player has some sort of weaponry, and there are monsters along the road, it would be fun to hunt the monsters while a simple pathfinding AI does the driving. E.g. the player could stand on the carriage that is taking them to a far away city, bow and arrow drawn and killing monsters - all the time giving the player the option to give the AI driver simple commands like "faster", "slower", "stop here", "circle my target", "chase my target", "come along side my target", "follow that car", "get us out of here" or any combination of other things.

There's not reason that you can't implement all of the systems suggested in a single game.

Rather than taking the adventure out of travling, take the travel out of traveling and you've got it.
kul_th_las
Guest
« Reply #12 - Posted 2005-02-02 13:29:40 »

An example of a good implementation of the "take the travel out of travelling" approach is the MMO EvE Online.

EvE is set in a sci-fi world where trading commodities takes on a fairly large portion of your time (if you play a trader class). In EvE there is a simulated, player-driven market that affects the prices of every item and commodity in the game.

Also, travelling from planet-to-planet, station-to-station, or system-to-system is controlled completely by your on-board computer, so there isn't a whole lot of manual flying involved. And though the ships you pilot have the equivalent of warp drives on them, it can still take 10 minutes or more to make the hyperjumps across several systems, and can take a few hours to cross the entire world (it's about 5,000 star systems I think).

So, with AI-driven navigation and piloting, what is there to keep the player busy all that time besides chat? EvE makes the market prices availble to you while you're in space - so as soon as you mine 1,000 units of ore (or better yet, WHILE you're mining that ore), you can instantly see where the best selling price for that ore is - and if the price changes while in flight, you can always change your course and go somewhere else. It's not the most entertaining thing to do, but they're on the right track - keeping the action in the game for player-on-player fights, and pushing the resource management and such into the slow traveling times. This cuts down dramatically on "down time" where you're in-game, but not accomplishing anything.

Allowing the player to make trading decisions while travelling to a space station also cuts down on the amount of time needed to be docked at the space stations (which can also be quite a bit of down time collectively), and shifts your play time to more action and mining, and less management overall.
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